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Racing Is Always Having To Say You’re Sorry

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2011

Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmie Johnson are having their friendship tested these days. Hopefully, not this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Indianapolis – So, what’s the most over-used phase by professional race car drivers? After, of course “I would like to thank…”, it would have to be, “Gee, sorry about that”.

And perhaps even more remarkable than its over-usage is its insincerity.

Shove a fellow competitor into a concrete wall at 200 mph, wad up a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of machinery, not to mention potentially adding new names to the list of orphaned children in America and some drivers think a simple “Gee, sorry about that” makes all well again.

Of course the recipients of anemic, vacant, verbal apologies are seldom moved by the false empathy. More often than not, they are insulted by it.

Like normally mellow Jimmie Johnson explained this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he talked about being whacked by – and then apologized to by – Juan Pablo Montoya at New Hampshire two weeks ago.

So, Jimmie, still upset at old JPM?

“Definitely upset,” Johnson said. “What it really boils down to, I don’t feel at least two of the three things that have happened are intentional, they were racing instances.  But there’s a point where you’ve got to respect the people you’re racing around and also respect a driver that you may have had some run-ins with.”

But he apologized afterward. If only to Jimmie’s crew chief.

“Juan and I have a friendship, we get along great,” Johnson continued. “After three times of me getting

Jimmie Johnson really not interested in apologies from Juan Pablo Montoya. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

turned around, hearing apologies, I’m tired of hearing apologies.”

Sunday’s Brickyard 400 is at a track where paybacks are taboo. The dangers of wrecking at Indy don’t need to be explained or even talked about. The lessons of screwing around at the 2.5-mile flat track can be viewed by Googling “driver deaths at Indianapolis”.

So Johnson hopes Montoya stops in to talk before the start of Sunday’s race. Just maybe not at his motor home.

“He and I have always talked about things in the past,” Johnson said. “I have not heard from him since New Hampshire.  It’s not like he drove in there and ran me over.  There’s a flow at Loudon and how you drive that put me in a bad position and got me turned around.  I’m sure we’ll talk about it.  We always do.

“I was in my motorhome.  At Darlington when he spun me out there, then I’m in my motorhome showering.  He walked into my bus, into my shower, to apologize.  Then he told me I’m naked.  Of course I am, I’m in the shower.  There’s some times where you can understand.  But after three times being turned around, hearing ‘I’m sorry,’ it can’t happen.”

Montoya then had his say. Sounds like Johnson will be taking uninterrupted showers this weekend.

“I actually apologized to the crew chief at the end of the race,” the Colombian driver said. “I actually said I thought I gave enough room. And I said if I didn’t sorry. I did apologize to the crew chief. If I see Jimmie I’ll say something.”

Question: How will you apologize?

Montoya: “If you really look at it he had plenty of race track at the bottom, so do I apologize no. I think the other time that I hit him he actually run into the wall and I decided not to hit the wall and hit him. It all depends on how you see it. His point of view and my point of view are very different.”

Question: If you don’t have to apologize, then why would you?

Montoya: “Why, because you don’t want to have problems with people here that you don’t need to. It’s to avoid future confrontations. It’s being smart.”

At least neither driver thanked their sponsors during their Q and As at Indy.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 30 2011
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